"...love covers over a multitude of sins. Offer hospitality to one another
without grumbling. Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve
others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms." 1 Peter 4: 8-10
Last Sunday Pastor Jeremy remarked about an incident at the recent coat drive, where
someone working there but not a part of our church spoke to a client in a way that was less than welcoming. That was unfortunate, but we can only move forward, intending to do better next time.
It got me thinking about a similar event MANY years ago that DID involve people from our
church. It was so long ago that even the ancient rickety elevator hadn’t been installed yet.
Kitchen Too didn’t have its center island, so tables and chairs were set up there. This was
where the Disciple One class met weekly, because one elderly member had knee issues and difficulty using stairs.
It was the week before Thanksgiving, and a dozen or so members of our church had spent the afternoon preparing food boxes for various people in the community. Each box contained a turkey, a can of yams, vegetables, cranberry sauce, and a pie. I came in the Warren Street entrance, intending to go to Kitchen Too for the class. Someone stopped me at the entrance to Fellowship Hall, telling me plainly that I couldn’t walk across the room because there was a lot of valuable food there. Whoever this was seemed to imply that I was a stranger and therefore suspect.
I asked if the south entrance to the kitchen was unlocked, so I could use that door. That made them even more suspicious. Fortunately, someone recognized me and allowed me to cross the room. I looked straight ahead and didn’t touch anything!
Shortly afterward, people came to pick up the boxes as scheduled. When all but two or three
boxes had left with their recipients; a man and woman came in and asked if there was anything left over that they could use for Thanksgiving for their family. NO! was the answer. The volunteers had spent the afternoon sorting and packing for just the families that they knew about, and these people hadn’t followed procedures to ask for help.
But: the few families who hadn’t left stopped the late comers. They rummaged around in their boxes to pick out things to share with this couple of latecomers. They made it clear that
everyone should have something for Thanksgiving. Some of our volunteers huddled in a corner, indignant that their work was disarranged before the boxes had even left the church.
It struck me that the recipients were being more hospitable and Christlike than some of the
people who had worked so hard to help others. I haven’t spoken about this for more than thirty years. I didn’t help with the packing and arranging, so I didn’t feel I could be critical about those who did. But they had gotten so wrapped up in doing their good works that they ignored what even better works might have been.